Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease in Kansas City, MO
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What is gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)?
Gastroesophageal reflux disease, often referred to as GERD, is a term used to illustrate what we see as the consequence of the common experience of acid reflux in an individual. Acid reflux refers to a singular occurrence or experience of acid regurgitation from the stomach into the esophagus, known as heartburn.
A patient is often diagnosed with GERD when acid reflux occurs in mild cases one or fewer times in a week or when moderate-to-severe acid reflux occurs at least twice a week. Gastroesophageal reflux disease is known to develop at any age, but it most commonly develops close to 40 years of age. If left untreated, people have been known to come to develop a health concern called Barrett’s esophagus. If you might have GERD, we strongly recommend that you see a gastrointestinal physician at Digestive Health Specialists in Kansas City, MO as soon as possible.
What causes GERD?
Whenever you eat food, that food passes through the esophagus and past the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) into your stomach. Whenever the LES grows compromised, it can weaken and fail to prevent stomach acid from entering back into the esophagus. Usually, there is not a single catalyst that leads to this occurring frequently, but one is at greater risk of having or of developing GERD should they meet any of these criteria:
- Scleroderma (a connective tissue disorder)
- Eat spicy foods
- Lie down often after eating
- Tobacco use
- Eat raw onion or garlic
- Alcohol consumption
- Drink coffee
- Consume large meals late at night
- Hiatal hernia (when the upper part of the stomach bulges through the diaphragm)
What are the major symptoms of GERD?
The primary symptoms of GERD are quite like acid reflux but may be felt more often. Those symptoms may include:
- Persistent cough
- Unexplained weight loss
- Chest pain
- Lump-in-the-throat sensation
- Regurgitation of sour liquids or food
- Disrupted sleep
We urge you to schedule a meeting with a GI provider at Digestive Health Specialists today if you experience any of the listed symptoms regularly or are in pain, or if you take OTC heartburn medication more than twice within a week.
What are the treatments for GERD?
Managing gastroesophageal reflux disease could consist of lifestyle modifications, medical intervention, or a combination of both. Treatments to avoid or reduce GERD in Kansas City, MO patients may include:
- Fundoplication (surgical procedure wrapping the stomach around the LES)
- Do not consume foods and beverages likely to cause acid reflux (see those listed above)
- Sleep on an incline
- Prescription-strength antacids (H-2 receptor blockers)
- Minimize caffeine/coffee consumption
- Do not eat at least two hours before bedtime
- Medication to strengthen the lower esophageal sphincter
- Remain awake and stand up after eating
- Quit smoking
- Tell your gastroenterologist about any medications you are taking
- Non-prescription antacids
- LINX® device (magnetic beads wrapped around the area where the stomach and esophagus meet)
- Eat slowly and in moderation
- Lose weight
What is the difference between acid reflux and GERD?
Acid reflux and GERD may seem to be very similar in nature. However, GERD is acid reflux that occurs several times a week for a longer duration of time. Should you experience heartburn or other symptoms either daily or often throughout the week, or you have symptoms that won’t go away with over-the-counter medications, you may be experiencing GERD.
Is there any food I should cut from my diet if I have GERD?
If you are diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease, you may be advised to avoid foods that promote the production of stomach acid. Some of these foods include:
- Citrus fruits
- High-fat foods
- Red meat
- Foods high in sugar
- Caffeine (such as coffee and soda)
- Spicy foods
- Salty or peppery foods
Our Digestive Health Specialists team can give you additional information on what foods to avoid if you are diagnosed with GERD.
Is GERD a life-threatening disease?
Gastroesophageal reflux disease is not considered life-threatening. It might sometimes make day-to-day tasks more uncomfortable, but you can often find relief with treatment. If left untreated, gastroesophageal reflux disease may lead to additional health issues. Some of these concerns involve Barrett’s esophagus, a disease that damages the esophagus (the structure that joins the mouth to the stomach), and esophagitis (inflammation of the lining of the esophagus). Receiving the care needed for this disease can help safeguard your health and wellness.
How long might it take for GERD to improve after treatment begins?
Certain factors can influence the time it takes to find relief from gastroesophageal reflux disease. These factors may include the form of medication you are taking, the damage caused by GERD, and how diligently you avoid foods that trigger symptoms. With professional treatment, your GERD symptoms should begin to wane over time. While you may not be able to eliminate GERD entirely, you should be able to gain control over its effects.
Find relief from GERD
Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a very common problem impacting the daily lives of millions of people. With proper treatment, however, the condition can be handled and its distressing symptoms relieved. If you or someone you know lives with GERD, the physician-led network of gastroenterology specialists at Digestive Health Specialists is ready to help. We urge you to set up a consultation at our facility to learn more about GERD treatment in Kansas City, MO.
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